Running game powers Bobcats
Limited air attack doesn’t stop BLHS against Lansing
Half of the high-flying Murphy show was sidelined Friday when Basehor-Linwood wide receiver Ryan Murphy missed the game with an injury. Meanwhile, quarterback Colin Murphy played but was limited by a lower back injury that made it painful to pass.
What could the Bobcats possibly do?
Well, there’s always the running game.
The Bobcats ran the ball 54 times and threw just nine times along the way to a 26-7 victory against Lansing at home.
“We want to be a balanced offense,” BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said. “If a team dares us to run — (Lansing) played two deep safeties, and that’s daring us to run. That means they think their seven in the box are better than our seven in the box.
“When teams only go with one safety, they’re saying ‘We’re committed to stopping the run; are you good enough to pass?’ We want to be a balanced team that can take advantage of whatever the defense gives you.”
Ironically, the Lions focused on stopping the pass on a night where the Bobcats didn’t plan on throwing much.
Steyr Stubenrauch carried the ball 26 times for 110 yards and Jesse Hiss rushed 15 times for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Murphy completed 6 of 9 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed three times for nine yards and a touchdown.
Stubenrauch said the running backs welcomed the challenge of carrying the load for a night.
“We definitely felt a little pressure because Ryan was out, and he’s our go-to guy,” Stubenrauch said. “We just knew we had to step it up and get some big yards for our team.”
Skylar Ross returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Despite the failed 2-point conversion attempt, the Bobcats led 6-0 after just 14 seconds.
Lansing was slow to respond. The Lions went three-and-out on their first possession and then turned it over on the next two — the first on an interception by Hiss and the second on a fumble recovery by Garret Kahle.
The second turnover gave BLHS a short field and led to the Bobcats’ second touchdown. After three runs by Stubenrauch, one by Hiss and another by Drew Potter, Colin Murphy scored on a 7-yard run to the left side. The 2-point conversion failed, but BLHS led 12-0 with 9:41 left in the second quarter.
Hopkins said the scoring run wasn’t the play he’d called. Instead, Murphy adjusted at the line of scrimmage after reading the defense.
“He changed the play to option. I could’ve killed him,” Hopkins said with a laugh, noting that he was worried about Murphy taking a hit to the back. “But that’s the kind of kid that he is. He said ‘Coach, that’s the play that was open.’”
Lansing went three-and-out on its ensuing drive — the final play that ended with a sack by Caleb Johnson for a 6-yard loss — and the Bobcats responded with their third touchdown of the half. They drove 31 yards on eight plays (seven of them runs), and capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge up the middle by Hiss that made the lead 18-0 with 4:11 left in the first half.
It appeared that would remain the score at halftime as Basehor-Linwood forced LHS into another three-and-out, but the Bobcats fumbled the punt and Lansing recovered. Moments later, LHS quarterback Litton Van Der Werff dumped off a pass to Nick Hughes on the right side. Hughes slipped out of a tackle, reversed the field and raced 39 yards to the end zone. Brad Brown’s extra point brought the Lions within 18-7 with 1:13 left in the second quarter, and that’s where the score stayed until late in the third quarter.
BLHS worked with a short field on its second drive of the third quarter. After starting on the Lansing 40, The Bobcats moved to the 25 after four straight carries by Stubenrauch. A pass interference call took the Bobcats inside the 13. From there, the Lions locked up the BLHS running game, so Colin Murphy improvised with the passing game by rolling to his right and hitting Ben Johnson over the middle for a 10-yard touchdown. The pair hooked up again for the 2-point conversion to make the lead 26-7 with 2:21 left in the third quarter.
Lansing went three-and-out on its next possession. Basehor-Linwood followed with a 17-play drive — 16 of them runs — that didn’t result in any points but did gobble up 8:50 of game time and essentially ended the game.
Hopkins credited his team’s defense with making the difference in the game. The Bobcats focused on shutting down speedy LHS receiver Parker Gibson, and they did it effectively by limiting him to just one catch for 16 yards.
“Our goal was to make their other receivers have to make plays,” Hopkins said.
Basehor-Linwood now stands 3-0 overall and in the Kaw Valley League. The Bobcats next play at 7 p.m. Friday at Bonner Springs (0-3, 0-2).
Hopkins said that the winless Braves are not a team to be taken lightly because — much like Lansing had Gibson — BSHS has numerous athletic players who will be difficult to contain.
“(They’ve got) phenomenal speed,” Hopkins said of the Braves. “I’m telling you, (quarterback) Jourdaine Smallwood and (running back) J.J. Jackson are as good as any players in this league. We’ve told them it’s kind of like (former Piper dual-threat quarterback) Jasper Sanders squared. We got to watch them play the second half of the Mill Valley makeup game, and I’ll tell you what, those two young men impressed me tremendously.
“We will have a game plan focused on those two young men. Now that’s no secret, I don’t think that’s giving anything away. They’re their big guns, and that’s who we’re going to focus on (trying to stop).”